School enrollment lowers Bettendorf taxes

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Property taxes for Bettendorf homeowners will go down slightly for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the property tax levy saving them 54 cents per $1,000 assessed.

The news comes after a study done shows the school district has enough money in their cash reserve to not need the extra taxes.

"Our board has been prudent. [We] have great cash reserves and we've built up great unspent balance," said Maxine McEnany, finance director for the Bettendorf Community School District. "We feel like we've done very well keeping things in line for our taxpayers and making sure we do what we need to do here at the school for the students."

That same study done by the district also revealed another reason for lowering taxes; student enrollment is down, causing the school to lose state funding.

"We're graduating higher numbers of classes and the new students that are coming in are lower numbers... [but] we're landlocked and there's not a lot of homes to spring up in our school district anymore," McEnany said.

The school district has lost 91 students over the past two years and projects it will lose another 150 students over the next five years.

According to the Bettendorf school funding formula, the state of Iowa provides $6,440 for each student in the school district, but with student enrollment down, that funding will disappear, cutting into the school district's general fund.

"Our general fund is what pays all of our salaries, benefits, school supplies, utilities, everything to run the general education program," said McEnany

80 percent of of that general fund is made up of salaries and benefits. The district has made up for it's state funding losses by offering early retirement to several teachers and not refilling those positions.

Current projects such as the improvement on Bettendorf High School athletic facilities won't be affected by the tax decrease.